Mbongô comes from West Africa, and is also called alligator pepper, after its appearance. The "scaly" egg-shaped seed box contains many small seeds, reminiscent of paradise grain. Mbongô is one of the four local peppers in the famous Nigerian pepper soup nwo-nwo.

The mbongô grows on a two-meter-high shrub of the ginger genus, which, like many ginger-like ones, has rhizomes. Just above the ground it forms trumpet-like flowers that appear to come straight out of the ground. They fall off quickly to make way for 10 cm large oval fruits.

These contain a seed box in a jelly-like moisture. The dried seed pods are egg-shaped, apparently scaly hairstyles, with a paper-like covering. The seed box contains many dozens of seeds, just like paradise grain (Aframomum melegueta) and Madagacar cardamom (Aframomum angustifolium). Strangely enough, the intact mbongo does not or hardly smell, but the more the seeds smell after grinding. A wonderfully fresh lemongrass scent, which conceals that the seeds can be quite peppery.

Our Mbongô comes from Cameroon, where the spice is used in many famous dishes, such as in Mbongô tchòbi, fish in black sauce. The spice is also used in other West African countries, such as the pepper soup in Nigeria.

Smell and taste

The essential oil is very similar to that of cinnamon (Eletteria cardamomum), and corresponding with that ofginger. Arome-active components responsible for the spicy lemongrass scent of mbongô are:

  • citronellol, the scent of sereh
  • afromodial, the unsaturated dialdehyde that causes its sharpness,
  • 1,8-cineol, eucalyptol, the refreshing taste of mint
  • β-pinene, woody pine scent, as in cumin, pine (pine cone), juniper and hemp,
  • α-terpineol, sweet floral scent like lilac.
  • sabines, responsible for the woody, camphor-like taste of, as in black pepper and nutmeg
  • β-myrcene, spicy aroma, with notes of fruits (mango, grape, peach) and mint,
  • α-caryophyllene (humuleen), hops, as in beer and cannabis
  • d-limonene, citrus, orange flavor


You can use Mbongô in any dish, even in cooked rice or pasta, but preferably in a palette of West African spices and herbs such as calabash nutmeg, grains of paradise, selim pepper, cubeb pepper, ginger, garlic nut and African mint. All of them seasonings from the fascinating West African cuisines.

Before you open the seed box (it is not eaten itself) it is roasted dark brown, so the seeds will display their rich aroma. After you have removed the 'paper' skin from the seed box, press the mbongo, so that the individual seeds are released. Pond or grind them shortly before use.


  • 100% berries of the Aframomum danielli
  • origin: Cameroon
  • harvest 2018


  • Available in standing bag and glass 
  • standing bags contain 30, 45, 60, 250 and 500 grams
  • glass jar contains 30 grams

Gift packages

  • the cubic box is suitable for packaging one glass jar and is supplied with a sheet of black tissue paper
  • the flat box has a flat 'velvet' inlay, and is suitable for  our small and medium-sized pouches (150 and 250 ml), marked with an arterisk *. Capacity: 4-5 bags, depending on the type of spice
  • for further details (and images) of our gift packaging, please refer to the product page

General advice

  • grind the pepper at the last minute to make the most of the scent
  • keep it in a dry and pretty cool place
  • the expiry date is meant as an indication

Best before

  • December  2022

Botanical name
Aframomum Aframomum danielli, Aframom citratus
No additions 100% dried fruit
Allergen information
Contains no allergenes

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  • €3.80

  • Ex Tax: €3.49

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Tags: mbongo, aligator-pepper, aframomum, african spices